In June, 2011, the Union Township Service Department was accredited by the American Publics Works Association (APWA) for the first time, being the only township in the United States to achieve such accreditation.
The APWA site team was back this June and awarded the department its second reaccreditation.
Accreditation for any organization and in any form is the standard of excellence that verifies that organization’s commitment to ideal work practices and outstanding customer service.
The American Public Works Association is uniquely positioned to serve American communities as it is the only agency covering the entire breadth of public works.
The Service Department first received accreditation in 2011, after only 15 months’ preparation. At that time, the department was responsible for achieving 311 standards across its Roads, Parks, Facilities Maintenance, Fleet Maintenance and Cemetery divisions.
After the initial accreditation has been awarded for compliance with a number of standards, subsequent site visits address one-third of those standards, all chosen at random, thus ensuring all standards are current.
In the visit this year from June 17 through 19, the department was judged on 117 standards and was deemed 100 percent fully compliant.
In addition, the team selected three Model Practices which will be shared with other agencies as guidelines. These were: 1) Strategy Plan; 2) Parks, Grounds & Forestry / Landscape Management, Master Plan or Reforestation Plan; and 3) Street Maintenance / Pavement Cut Restoration.
“They were extremely impressed with our department’s professionalism, as well as attention to detail,” said Shawn Hartness, Service Department assistant director. “That three model practices were chosen to share with other agencies as guidelines is testament to our commitment to providing service and safety to the township in the most professional, efficient and quality way.”
In that regard, Hartness noted that the APWA refers folks all over the country to the Union Township Service Department as an organization doing everything right.
“We have mentored many agencies, helping them obtain accreditation by sharing some of our model practices,” Hartness said
Of what benefit is accreditation to the township?
“This program by nature causes us to stay organized and updated in all avenues of Publics Works,” Hartness said. “It is an incredible tool for future planning. If you don’t have a plan, then you automatically set yourself up for failure.”
Hartness said being accredited has raised the bar even among personnel.
“Our staff members take great pride in knowing that we are among the best in the business when it comes to Public Works. The biggest thing this program has accomplished for us is that it has transformed us from being reactive to being proactive,” Hartness said. “We now resolve issues before they become problems.”
And, simply put, that makes for a top-notch service organization.